Three-Quarters Of All Smartphones Contain NSA Code In Operating System

androidGoogle confirms that Android phones come with “Security Enhancements” added by the NSA, Bloomberg reports:

Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano confirms that the company has already inserted some of the NSA’s programming in Android OS. “All Android code and contributors are publicly available for review at source.android.com,” Scigliano says, declining to comment further.

Through its open-source Android project, Google has agreed to incorporate code, first developed by the agency in 2011, into future versions of its mobile operating system, which runs on three-quarters of smartphones [globally].

NSA officials say their code, known as Security Enhancements for Android, isolates apps to prevent hackers and marketers from gaining access to personal or corporate data stored on a device. Eventually all new phones, tablets, televisions, cars, and other devices that rely on Android will include NSA code, agency spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines said in an e-mailed statement.

In a 2011 presentation obtained by Bloomberg Businessweek, the NSA listed among the benefits of the program that it’s “normally invisible to users.” Vines wouldn’t say whether the agency’s work on Android and other software is part of or helps with Prism.

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  • Anarchy Pony

    None of this shit shocks me anymore. Does that make me jaded?

    • I_abide

      Nope just realistic.

      • ManwithnoCountry

        “Don’t ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct
        oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.”

        -Robert Heinlein

  • AManCalledDa-da

    So much for Android. Will this translate into a stock dive?

    • GregForest

      Wouldn’t be surprised if Apple was there first. After all, they think they are the leader. :)

  • emperorreagan

    I hope the NSA enjoys watching me play Sudoku while I shit.

  • Flatland_Spider

    Let me go ahead and kill this FUD right now.

    The Security Enhancements they are talking about are derived from concepts first developed for SELinux (Security Enhanced Linux). SELinux was started by the NSA as a way to secure operating systems and keep them safe from compromised programs. Here is the home page for the project http://selinuxproject.org/page/Main_Page, here is the Wikipedia page explaining what it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selinux, and the NSA page talking about SELinux http://www.nsa.gov/research/selinux/related.shtml. Here is the specific SE for Android page on the SELinux website http://selinuxproject.org/page/SEAndroid.

    These Security Enhancements are a mechanism to keep programs from writing to areas of the filesystem that they don’t need to be writing to. This is nothing more then a lock on a door. Users have the key to open the door, but programs do not.

    SELinux has been open source since December 2000, and it has been part of the Linux kernel since August 2003. The code has been thoroughly scrutinized, and it has been thoroughly vetted against any spying capability. It wouldn’t have made it into the Linux kernel if there were any questions, or someone would have found the code by now. As Android is based on the Linux operating system, it has inherited the ability to use SELinux to sandbox programs, and use it to keep malware/viruses from stealing peoples information and infecting other parts of the phone/tablet. SE for Android is just implementing the latent functionality.

    @Jacob Sloan: Please ask someone who knows what they are talking about before posting stuff like this. This is misinformation, and frankly, a steaming pile of crap.

  • lucky liu

    who doesn’t have any NSA kernels? Linux allowed NSA to insert kernels far back as 2001…Which cell phone should I buy that doesnt have this steaming piece of NSA in it???

  • shawnsBrain

    The fact that they’ve done it for a long time does not make me any less skeptical.

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